Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois Hosts the Physician Diversity Summit

Derek Robinson: At Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois we appreciate that there is a tremendous opportunity to increase the number of underrepresented minorities
in medicine, we know that there is a number of very strong pipeline programs that have
demonstrated enormous success over the years, but those programs are too few. Dr. Linda Rae Murry: Illinois has resources
that other parts of the country don’t have, we have so many medical schools, we have such great universities. We really should be able to develop a template on how to improve the people of color in the physician
work force. Pilar Ortega MD: This conference is an example
of how a company like Blue Cross can make an impact getting together people who are
already active in making an impact in underrepresented minorities and increasing our under-representation
in medicine. So, putting together a conference like that
to allow people to exchange ideas and really take action is really powerful. Michael Dill: Being a physician is sort of
the highest prestige occupations out there, and the fact that minority groups are under-represented
means that they don’t have access to that and that’s not okay, but it also has implications
for the health of the population. Brandi Jackson MD: There were things along
the way that made me think twice about becoming a doctor. That’s the reality. I have experienced frank racism, both as trainee and then I witnessed it and that was a source of inspiration, I have
to get through this, I have to do this training so that I can get out there and help people
who look like me, who are not getting the care that they need. Derek: We certainly see that there there are opportunities for us to create synergy working in partnership with other corporations as well as philanthropic
entities that support a greater scale of those pipeline programs that we know can deliver
results in increasing the number of under-represented minorities in medicine. Jose Muratalla: It’s not just about talk anymore, it’s
about people coming together and really trying to figure out how do we address this issue
that is so pertinent, because as an interpreter at a free clinic and doing all these different
volunteer opportunities there is very much a need for more diversity in the medical field. Bonnie Simpson Mason MD: This is an anomaly;
this conference is so important it’s bringing together all of the stakeholders who have
a ton of experience who have a ton of insight but also have boots on the ground to facilitate
creating change. So, we need these types of safe spaces where
we can innovate, share ideas and actually build a plan and strategy to achieve the physician workforce diversity that we are looking for and that the country needs. William McDade MD, Ph.D.: This biggest thing
that I saw from the data today was that we need to figure out to get more people into
the pipeline and become physicians and then how to get them through the pipeline to actually
serve patients. Derek: We want to ensure that we are at the
table, that we are supporting initiatives that can help improve diversity in the physician
workforce and that we remain a sustainable part of this effort that we ensure that there
is a right level of accountability around performance to deliver results that meet the
needs of the communities that we serve across Illinois. Brittani Jackson MD: I absolutely notice a
difference in patients when they walk into the room and they just see my skin color or
that I am a woman too. I think for African Americans patients, there is an
instant sense of comradery. Michael Dill: There is absolutely no doubt
that minority physicians are more likely to treat minority populations, and practice in
minority areas, and underserved areas in general, which means people who generally have less
access to care have that access improved when we have a more diverse workforce. Pilar Ortega: Not only is medicine a good
career, but it is also something that underrepresented minorities have something additional to add
to this career, and that is an ability
to understand the under-served. Derek: We have a growing diverse nation in
the United States and it’s important to ensure that we have a physician workforce that represents
that diversity.

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